Sunday, 10 August 2008

Scripture Reading Plan: Baruch

The Scripture Reading Plan I'm following seems rather detached from Matins at the moment, as this week it does a quick dance through Baruch, Ezra and Nehemiah. Next week we start Job. By contrast Matins is working through Ecclesiastes, Wisdom, before getting to Job in September. I think next time around I may do some adjusting to line them up more closely (and in fact I think I might swap around Proverbs and Job to line them up a little more closely)!

Nonetheless, the book of Baruch does link nicely to Chronicles, which I've just finished in accordance with the plan, since it deals with the causes of the Exile and the situation of the exiles. It is a call to repentance, conversion, and faith, linked with a strong condemnation of idolatry.

As such, it does also provide a strong bridge between the historical and prophetical books, and Wisdom literature which we move back to shortly, particularly in its middle section, which is a poem in praise of wisdom which seems to have been influenced by Job 28 and Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 24. In fact, its description of wisdom descending to earth in the form of the Law of Moses can be seen as foreshadowing John 1.

Although there is some debate on this, Baruch, whose recently discovered bulla is shown above, is usually identified as the scribe of the prophet Jeremiah. In fact, the last chapter is really a separate book called the Letter of Jeremiah. Baruch went to Egypt with the prophet in 587 when the people fled there.

The book of Baruch was excluded from Jewish Scriptures toward the end of the first century as part of the reaction against texts that were seen as giving undue support to Christianity, on the basis that it was written in Greek (although scholars now seem agreed that the Septuagint version was translated from a Hebrew original now lost) and so is either excluded or regarded as apocryphal by protestants.

The reading plan sets chapters 1-3 for today, then 4-6 for tomorrow. So I'll try and write on Ezra on Tuesday...

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